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B"H

The Rambam in the laws of Sefer Torah chapter 8 halacha 4 lists all of the "open" and "closed" passages in the Torah.

Are there any commentaries anywhere that discuss any deeper meanings of why certain passages are closed as opposed to open?

I recall seeing something briefly, I Believe from the Rebbe Rashab, explaining why one of the passages was either open or closed, but I don't remember which.

Based on that, and the fact that everything in the Torah is so exact, I would assume that there are other commentaries somewhere that suggest deeper meanings of each passage based on if it's open or closed.

As an example to illustrate what I mean, (this is my own pure conjecture just for illustration purposes),

The first passages, about the initial creation of the world, are:

יְהִי רָקִיעַ. יִקָּווּ הַמַּיִם. יְהִי מְאֹרֹת. יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם. תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ. וַיְכֻלּוּ. אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם. כֻּלָּן פְּתוּחוֹת.

Which are all "open".

In some commentaries it says that this world was created with a ה, to allow it to be "open" for teshuva. Also, it's explained elsewhere that the initial act of creation was an "Awakening from above", without any efforts from humans. Both of these ideas may be related to how the passages are "open".

In contrast, the next passages:

אֶל הָאִשָּׁה אָמַר. וּלְאָדָם אָמַר. שְׁתֵּיהֶן סְתוּמוֹת.

About the sin of the tree of knowledge, are closed, maybe implying that sin "closes" one off for a time.

These are just my own examples, to illustrate the type of commentary I'm looking for, if it exists, regarding these passages

Any answer that provides even one official commentary (rishon, acharon etc.) on even one passage, would be good, although the more the better.

Ideally only official sources should be cited.

However, if you have your own reasoning to add, as long as it can be justified by some earlier commentary, and it's specified that it is your own insight (like the above example), that would also be accepted.

Answers may include explanations for one passage or many.

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  • Closest thing I've seen to the topic is this (by me), on Parshas Vayikra drive.google.com/file/d/11z6I0Mc6HZtfe3f0zT0G_kg5cenNrl41/…. Not as much on closed and open, though, as, when there are breaks at all.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Apr 25 at 14:20
  • mosadharavkook.com/shop/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 28 at 11:35
  • @DoubleAA Wow! Thank you.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Apr 28 at 21:31
  • I did have a note there about a Teshuvas Maharshal, siman 37, who makes it clear that a open break (פתוחה) is a bigger break than a closed one (סתומה). IOW it might make sense to group things with the open breaks as larger sections, and the closed breaks as sub-sections. Not always easy to make that work, though. sefaria.org/…
    – MichoelR
    Commented May 28 at 12:11

1 Answer 1

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B"H

An obvious example that I forgot about before:

Beginning of Vayechi in Rashi:

And Jacob lived: Why is this section [completely] closed? Because, as soon as our father Jacob passed away, the eyes and the heart of Israel were “closed,” (i.e., it became “dark” for them) because of the misery of the slavery, for they (the Egyptians) commenced to subjugate them. Another explanation: That he (Jacob) attempted to reveal the End [of the exile] to his sons, but it was “closed off” (concealed) from him. [This appears] in Gen. Rabbah (91:1).

וַיְחִי יַֽעֲקֹב: לָמָּה פָּרָשָׁה זוֹ סְתוּמָה? לְפִי שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּפְטַר יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ נִסְתְּמוּ עֵינֵיהֶם וְלִבָּם שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל מִצָּרַת הַשִּׁעְבּוּד, שֶׁהִתְחִילוּ לְשַׁעְבְּדָם; דָּבָר אַחֵר: שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לְגַלּוֹת אֶת הַקֵּץ לְבָנָיו, וְנִסְתַּם מִמֶּנּוּ. בּבְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה:

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